Sunday, 14 September 2014

'From My Home to Yours' Blog Swap - Parcel Two!

As you may know, I took part in the blog swap organised by Betty and my swap partner Emma sent me a lovely parcel.  She also told me that there were more things she had got ready for the swap, but had forgotten to post them, so to look out for them in parcel two. They arrived safe and sound this week. 
 The parcel was unwrapped with great excitement and here's what greeted me...
I set it out and there was a lavender shortbread pack, made with Jersey lavender, a map and tourist guide of Jersey, a bags of blue beads, a blue crocheted flower, a peach rose brooch, and a very pretty bead necklace (the flowers and necklace made by Emma),
 Here are the necklace, beads and flowers - so pretty!
 So, I put the two parcels of goodies together and this is what I received.
Wow - what a fantastic lot of loveliness!  I am really looking forward to making (and eating) the shortbread - I'll let you know how I get on. A HUGE thank you to Emma for all the beautiful things.  Blog swaps are so much fun!

Monday, 8 September 2014

From My Home to Yours blog swap - parcels!

I like taking part in blog swaps and have just been enjoying the 'From My Home to Yours' swap organised by lovely Betty. The idea was to have four things from your home area, one of which had to be hand made, and anything else you felt like including.  I was partnered up with the fabulous Emma and we got in touch, emailed and looked at each other's blogs for inspiration, as well as likes and dislikes.  We made, gathered, bought and created and then swapped.
 Here are some of the lovely things which Emma sent me in the first parcel (excitingly, Emma told me that there would be another one too).  There's a lovely blue bag, made and embroidered by Emma, as well as some fabric washi tape, some floral straws, some flower pegs (perfect additions for my seasonal tree), the sweetest little crocheted owl and some delicious praline chocolate, made on Jersey.
Such a lovely and very appropriate zipped bag!
How gorgeous is this little blue owl?  Thank you so much, Emma, for your lovely gifts  - they are great!
As it was Emma's first ever blog swap, I really wanted her to enjoy it.  I found out she liked owls and her favourite colours were pink and purple.  As you might imagine, those things featured quite highly!  I included a felt heart (hand made and incorporating Lincoln Longwool), and a magazine about Lincolnshire, a map of Lincoln (in case she ever wants to visit) and various postcards and fridge magnets with images of Lincolnshire.  I also included some owl related things, craft related things and jewellery.  I think all my blog swaps so far have included felt and jewellery (that could be a clue for my next swap partner!).  I was lucky to find some owl material and an owl mug and I painted some pastel owls, taken from the wrapping paper which can be seen below, onto a notebook.
Here it all is, wrapped and ready to be packaged up.  It was a lovely swap to be involved with, so thanks to Betty for the organising and huge thanks to Emma for being such a lovely swap partner.  When parcel part two arrives, I'll post about that as well.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Tea, cake, biscuits...and dahlias

I have been baking recently - above is my first attempt at a carrot cake.  Well, I say carrot, but it also has bananas and coconut in it. The recipe said walnuts, but as I don't like them, I substituted coconut instead.
It's a moist and dense cake, a little crumbly, but very delicious.  I was going to make some icing, but we felt it didn't need it.  I will definitely bake this again and maybe add in some ginger and cinnamon too...mmm!
 For the biscuits, I made shortbread and added chocolate chips.  I like shortbread on its own, but you can't go wrong by adding chocolate!  I also have some fudge pieces in the cupboard, so shortbread with fudge pieces may be next on the 'to be baked' list.
My lovely husband went to get us some milk at the weekend and came back with not just the milk, but these beautiful dahlias.  They were being sold in aid of the Salvation Army at a jumble sale-type event.  It was a lovely surprise and I am really enjoying the beautiful colours and amazing flower formations.  I have tried growing dahlias before, without much success, as the slugs and snails think I have planted them just for them.
 I couldn't resist some close ups because the petal formations are so amazing.
 Thanks, Chris, they are gorgeous!
This richly coloured velvety one is my favourite!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

More from Miss M. E. Porter

Here are a few more works by Miss Margaret E Porter; ones that appealed to me.  The image of the lady and butterfly above also has a strong Art Nouveau feel but also reminds me of Aubrey Beardsley's work with the swirling patterns and strong black and white.
 This Rose design was just a little too big to fit on my scanner, but is symmetrical.
I liked the swirly pattern in the centre of this design.
The vines design is one of my favourites - it works really well and has a really good flow around the whole piece.
 Mother and child reading, again, an effective use of monochrome.
Slightly softer in feel, with a more three dimensional appearance for these flowers.  She was a very talented designer and artist.

Monday, 25 August 2014

A Vintage Art discovery

This discovery happened when we went to a little Antiques market a couple of weekends ago, in Castle Square in Lincoln.  We looked round the stalls and saw lots of things we would like, in an ideal world, of course, but then, on one stall, I noticed this ink drawing in  a box, on top of a lot of other papers.
 It reminded me a bit of some designs my granny had done when she was at school, and was Art Nouveau in style, which is a style I really like.  We dug down into the box and found many more ink drawings and some paintings and works in colour.  They all had a number on them (15306) and most had a name and address, M. E. Porter, Sibsey, Boston, Lincs.  We picked out a few images we really liked and got ready to pay.  The stall holder told us that there were letters in the box too, and that M. E. Porter had undertaken a drawing course in 1916-1917, of which these were all part.  She said she had spent a happy evening reading the letters.  We were just going to buy the pictures we'd picked out when, on an impulse, we decided it would be a real shame to break up the collection, so we bought the whole boxful.
Having had a really good look through the work once we got home, we found that the illustration course was with The Practical Correspondence College, based in The Strand in London, and that Margaret Porter's tutor was Charles E Dawson, a well-known designer and illustrator of the time.  The V & A appear to have several of his designs for Jaeger in their collection, but sadly, no images are available.  In the box, however, there are examples of his work as part of the course and a design for Jaeger, which I'll post at a later date.
The course seems to have encompassed a wide variety of styles in order to prepare the student for commercial work. I think that this geometric design is carefully drawn out and well executed - it would all be done on a computer these days, of course!
Another geometric design.
 Miss Porter designed several candle shades (for examples of commercial shades click here) - I liked this one in particular, with its Japanese influence.
 A very Art Nouveau design.
 This poster reminded me of a Toulouse-Lautrec image, with the stippling effect for the hair and in the border.  Gladys Cooper (1888-1971) was an actress, initially in the Theatre, but today is probably best known as Mrs Higgins in 'My Fair Lady'. Later in her career, she was excellent at playing manipulative unpleasant older women, such as Bette Davis' mother in 'Now Voyager'.
 In 'Now Voyager'.
 Gladys Cooper in 1913.
Gladys Cooper with her children. (Photos courtesy of Wikipedia)
We also had a look at the 1901 and 1911 censuses online, to see if we could find out any more about Miss Porter.  We found out that she was born in 1892-1893, (depending which information we looked at), her father, Frederick, was a farmer and her mother, Kate and older sister, also Kate, lived at Main Street, Sibsey, Boston.  The letters show that she moved into Boston itself at some point and there is one addressed to Woodhall Spa, but whether she lived there, or was just visiting, isn't clear.  We think that she died in 1978, in Lincolnshire, but other than that, we don't know any more details about her life.  I would like to think that she perhaps worked in commercial art in some way.  I'll post more of her work in my next post...

Friday, 22 August 2014

Colour in the garden

To help to forget about the rather unseasonably cold weather, here are a few photos of plants flowering happily outside.  This bright orange (I'm gradually starting to think orange might be a good thing in the garden) flower is Tithonia Torch which I grew from seed this year and which has finally started to bloom.
It is a very cheerful thing. 
 Here's another success from my seed sowing.  This is Malope Triffida Vulcan (a relative of the mallow).  This particular specimen is rather spindly and leggy because I left it too long before planting it out, but the flowers are fabulous.
 The colour is so bright.
 Even the buds are rather lovely. However, this plant is a magnet for slugs and snails and I only have a couple of these plants left, but I am really enjoying them.
 Hibiscus Syriacus Red Heart is flowering well too.
 I like the swirling pattern the unfurling petals make.
 Anemone Bressingham Glow is flowering really well this year with very tall stems.
My latest clematis (Clematis Heracleifolia Wyevale) is one which I absolutely love.  It is a herbaceous variety with tall strong stems and lovely bluebell-like flowers, which have a beautiful scent.
 Such pretty blue flowers.
 Finally, Crocosmia Princess for another burst of fiery colour.  I bought this at Newby Hall and it is a smaller variety but still packs a colour punch.  Yes, I am definitely coming round to the idea of orange...

Sunday, 17 August 2014

May I introduce Mr Thomas Wilkinson Wallis of Louth?

We visited Louth museum last week, which is a very interesting place with a lot of things to look at, from Roman pottery to a Victorian wedding dress.  While there, we made the acquaintance of a very talented woodcarver, Thomas Wilkinson Wallis (1821-1903), who lived and worked in Louth itself (and, judging from the photograph above, possessed a fine Victorian beard too). Although an initial internet search didn't seem to reveal much (and I think that may be because I didn't spell his name correctly - oops!), Chris has found that actually, there seems to be quite a lot out there, such as the Louth Museum website and his autobiography as well as a carving in the V & A . His work continues the tradition of woodcarving using limewood and he is the natural successor to Grinling Gibbons, albeit a century or so later. (Apologies in advance for the blurriness and general poor quality of the photos - the lights in the museum made it very difficult to get a clear picture and my hands obviously weren't quite as steady as they needed to be! However, I hope the photos give you a reasonable idea of some of the work).
This amazing piece of work was created in 1871, using just two pieces of wood.
Here's a close up of the carving on the left, showing a detail of the wood, carved into with added knots, so that it looks more rustic, as though it is from an old gate or fence. 
He signed the piece at the base.
Here's the information the museum had about him (if you click on the photo, it should enlarge).
 This photo shows a piece he created for the Great Exhibition of 1851, called 'Trophy of Spring' which was three feet high and the largest he ever carved. According to the details, it is in a collection in the USA.  He won a medal at the Great Exhibition for this piece.

Replicas of the medals he received are displayed too.
Although I'm not that keen on the idea of dead birds, they do demonstrate his skill.  The birds are hanging from a piece of string tied to a nail and it is difficult to believe it is all wood.  I am so pleased we went to the museum, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to share some of his incredible work with you. Lovely to have met you, Mr Wilkinson Wallis.